The outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 reminds us of the very essence of PRI’s existence. At this time, our mission is to ensure that no one is left behind and PRI is working to ensure that prison management, criminal justice authorities and governments around the world are informed, equipped and supported to slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As this pandemic also hits all our homes, from all of us at PRI, we hope you are healthy and staying safe.
Earlier this month we published a briefing note on the risks of COVID-19 to the health and human rights of people in prison. Our findings and recommendations were echoed by other important publications, including the World Health Organisation’s Europe guidance, the Advice of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, and the statement of the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture.
We also greatly value the efforts of partner organisations publishing information and documentation of responses to COVID-19 in prisons. To mention one, the Information Hub created by the Association for the Prevention of Torture is a unique resource and database.
We have pointed to the need to consider releasing vulnerable individuals. We also underlined the risks associated to COVID-19 spreading further in countries with weak health systems and lack of hygiene in places of detention.
In parallel, we are also developing practical responses to COVID-19 for prison management, criminal justice authorities and governments to improve their responsiveness and resilience. We are committed to being flexible in helping to respond to this crisis.
At PRI, we are guided by our values in our response to COVID-19. Do no harm, equality, transparency and humanity are principles which should also guide the criminal justice sector’s response to coronavirus.
Those values also guide the way we work – our outmost priority is to protect PRI’s staff members across the globe to prevent exposing them to risks of contamination due to work. Our Management Team has been taking protective measures since early March. Our incredibly dedicated team, today working from home, remains steadfast committed to criminal justice reform and promoting human rights for people in prison.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights underlined the risk of COVID-19 ‘rampaging through places of detention’ and called for urgent action to be taken by governments to protect those in detention.
We believe we are uniquely equipped, qualified and skilled to provide answers to COVID-19. Our reactions to this health crisis aim at having long-term and sustainable effect, to build fair and effective criminal justice systems around the globe.
PRI Executive Director
Please do not hesitate to contact Florian Irminger at HeadOfSecretariat@penalreform.org.